MPEG-4 is a container format that can hold audio and video streams as well as subtitles and still images; MP4 is the file extension given to MPEG-4 files that contain both video and audio, while audio only MPEG-4 files are given the M4A extension. M4A is a lossless codec and is also called Apple Lossless, Apple Lossless Encoder, or ALE; the format is expected to become the new standard for the lossless compression of audio files while still taking up less storage space.
MP3 refers to Audio layer 3 of the MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 video standards; MP3 uses lossy compression and as a result is smaller in size compared to lossless compression formats but is still the audio standard of choice today because the bits that are lost during compression are out of range of the human ear and as a result are not noticeable. MP3 files are typically created at a bitrate of 128kbps and this compression will make the MP3 file about 10 times smaller than the original file; the bitrate can be higher or lower depending on the user’s preferences but of course higher bit rates mean a larger file size and better quality while a lower bit rate will mean a smaller file size and lower quality.
Portable music players may not support the M4A format so it may become necessary to convert M4A to MP3 for this reason; here are the steps that will be required for the conversion.
THINGS YOU WILL NEED
• PC or laptop
• Conversion software
1. Locate the M4A files that are to be converted to MP3
2. Create a new folder on the desktop or in another location that is easy to find on the computer
3. Copy all desired M4A files to the newly created folder
4. Go online and search for conversion software for M4A to MP3. Popular free choices include Format Factory and Media Coder while paid choices include NCH Switch Audio Converter and dBPowerAmp
5. After making a selection from the plethora of available utilities download and install it
6. Open the installed program and set the output to MP3 from within the interface if applicable
7. Drag the M4A files from within the newly created folder into the interface of the application
8. Hit the button on the interface of the application to begin the conversion process and wait for a completion message
9. Once completed open the output folder manually or from within the program if supported
10. When the folder is opened the converted files will be available for whatever intended use
DO’s AND DONT’s
• Don’t attempt to convert M4A files that may be protected as there may be errors.
• Ensure that the create folder is deleted after the conversion process is completed.
• Do not move the original files to the newly created folder as this will disrupt the music library if one is installed on the PC or laptop and was managing the M4A files such as iTunes.